After receiving acclaim in the West End and on Broadway, the stage adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s novel “The Kite Runner” is now on tour in the UK and Ireland until early July 2024. Set in 1970’s Afghanistan, this production written by Matthew Spangler and directed by Giles Croft, narrates a tale of a friendship, guilt and redemption that significantly influences a lifetime. The play and novel both start with the statement, “I became what I am today at the age of 12” setting the stage for a fictional memoir that delves into childhood mistakes and their lasting impact.

The play begins with a conversation in Dari, one of Afghanistan’s official languages, between a young Amir, a wealthy Pashtun boy and his servant and loyal friend Hassan, a Hazara boy. I didn’t understand the initial dialogue but as I watched the two boys playing innocently, with their playful gestures and expressions, I was reminded that ‘play’ is the universal language of children.

Staying faithful to the book, this production tackles the tough realities of life in Afghanistan. It highlights the stark divides in social classes and delves into the country’s history marked by coups, invasions, insurgencies, and civil wars. This play delivers a powerful and impactful message with its portrayals of death, rape and violence.

The content can be tough to watch at times, but the actors’ warmth and the writing combine, to deliver an incredibly touching and thought-provoking performance. Stuart Vincent shines in his role as Amir, captivating the audience with his passion and complexity, even in moments when his character may be unlikeable. Despite this, you still find yourself empathising with him. Hearing his description of a kite tournament far above the treetops, while pretending to hold a string, is so compelling! Yazdan Qafouri delivers a powerful performance as Hassan, portraying him as brave and resilient, which intensifies the emotional impact of his hardships.

Indeed, the entire cast delivered a remarkable performance, narrating the story with great passion and energy, brimming with emotions and humanity. The percussionist, Hanif Khan, played a crucial role in captivating the audience and transporting them on a profound journey through Afghanistan to experience the story once again.

The Kite Runner‘s tremendous success as a novel, film, and stage adaptation can be attributed to its ability to evoke a wide range of human emotions and explore complex relationships in a captivating manner. It takes you on a heartbreaking journey that is touching and intensely powerful!